Cops swarm pub over virus breach

Police first warned the 62-year-old man on Monday after officers discovered he was operating The Pastoral Hotel in Echuca in a breach of the chief health officer’s directions. The Echuca local was fined again the next day and was then arrested and charged on Wednesday after he remained open to the public. He was hit with $22,000 in fines.Trevor Andrews said police “barged in” and raided the Sturt St eatery on Wednesday.“There was like 15 of them there and they barged in through the doors and that was it,” he told 7 News.“It shouldn’t happen, I shouldn’t be charged for it. I’m trying to run a business and keep my head afloat.”Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Shane Patton said officers were made aware of the “quite concerning” lockdown breach when a member of the public dialled triple-0. “We went and warned him and took down some details, then he was open the next day serving oysters, steaks and chips and the like,” he told 3AW on Friday morning. “On three days there was a number of different people in there totalling 54 people all up.“This is a deliberate, blatant breach of the chief health officer’s directions.”Police issued infringements to 47 people at the pub who claimed they had permission to be there “under commonwealth law”.The fines totalled more than $100,000. The pub owner was charged with breaching the directions of the chief health officer and bailed to face Echuca Magistrates Court on December 14.Victorians must abide by strict lockdown rules until at least 11.59pm on Tuesday as the state grapples with a Covid-19 outbreak.The state posted 14 new locally acquired cases on Friday – 10 were in quarantine throughout their entire infectious period.

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